I read a very good article on Mother's Day here. It got me thinking of my mother, mother-in-law, and motherly mentors in my life.
So I decided to write letters to them.
I clearly remember your high level of supportiveness during my childhood. You encouraged me to read longer, more difficult books. You taught me how to write a book report when I (as a second-grader) was crushed at my lack of written book reports thus far in my life. You helped me (as an elementary school student) discern the difference between gossip and non-gossip when I was concerned I was unintentionally gossiping. You were willing to let me spread my wings through mission trips to DC, Jamaica, Florida, Uruguay, Alabama, and more. You stayed involved in my life (yes, I thought it was so cool to have my mom on field trips with me). You gave me an allowance to teach me to how to budget. You taught me to resist impulse buys. You showed me how fun it was to make, not buy, items. You taught me the value of discipline and working before playing. You showed me what hospitality looks like by having company over. You were willing to cook two main dishes for each meal during my 5 year vegetarian stage, showing me what love does for others. I am grateful you are in my life.
It was always a special treat to get to go to your home and it was even more special to get to spend the night. Holidays at your house conjure up memories of playing dress-up with clothes you set aside for that purpose, of getting to hold your special glass baby doll if we stayed still enough, and of course card games galore. From your lake home, to the parsonage, to your current home, I was always impressed with how your home could expand to allow so many people inside, to share food, memories, and games. I remember the after-dinner walks we ladies went on, even if I was a little wild. I remember how you open up your life to us, by introducing us to your friends and bringing us to your water aerobics class (that stuff is hard work!!). I remember sharing Manchester College with you as the Women's Mission Camp coincided with the Young People's Mission Camp and the Children's Mission Camp. I was so proud that I could share my meals with my grandma. You have taught me so much about hospitality and showing love to people...as well as many new card games. I am grateful you are in my life.
Dear Mom-o (i.e. my mother-in-law),
Every time I see you, I notice your love for those around you: your grown children, grandchildren, family, friends, church family, and more. You taught me the thrill of the hunt in thrift stores and the joy of good deals. You taught me the importance of thinking of others while going about my day. (i.e. Does ____ need anything from this store while I'm here? Will this be a good gift for ___?) You display love even when you don't agree with choices and decisions made by others. I am thankful for the son you raised and share with me through my marriage to him. I enjoy our candid conversations and discussions. I am grateful you are in my life.
Dear motherly mentor 1 (Rose),
You may or may not have noticed how closely I watched you over the past 4+ years (in a non-stalker way), but I did. When I look at you, I see a woman of prayer and faith. When I come to a crisis (real or imagined), oftentimes, I reflected on your words & teachings, such as "know your enemy" and don't give weight to "vain imaginings". I am grateful for your common sense and problem-solving mindset. I am grateful you are in my life.
Dear motherly mentor 2 (Cynthia),
I haven't known you for a very long time, but I am thrilled to know you now. You are a woman of faith. I am encouraged to dive deeper into my faith just by being around you. You wow me with the genuineness of your faith; I honestly think that it is impossible to separate you from your faith. Since we are both the wives of pastors, I view you as a kindred spirit. The path I'm on and struggles I am going through are things that are semi-familiar (but not identical) to your experiences. I value your wisdom and friendship. I am grateful you are in my life.
Dear other motherly mentors,
You have taught me many lessons of the years you have been in my life. You have taught me lessons in joy, self-control, and friendship. You were friends and supports for me. Thank you for the time you were willing to invest in a growing Christian. You have had a deeper impact than perhaps you know. I am grateful you are in my life.
All of you women are women of valor (Eshet Chayil in Hebrew). The Proverbs 31 woman is not supposed to be a person you compare yourself to nor is it a list for you to complete; it is a title of praise or a blessing. (For more on the Woman of Valor, you can check out "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" by Rachel Held Evans.)
You raised me, O Woman of Valor. You taught me, O Women of Valor. You have influenced and impacted me, O Women of Valor. And for that, I thank you.